The truth about SEO: why success takes time

The truth about SEO: why success takes time

Words: Belinda Connolly 

Imagine your website as a hidden gem tucked away in a corner of the internet. No matter how brilliant its content, if no one can find it, it might as well be invisible. This is where search engine optimisation (SEO) comes in, sending potential customers straight to your digital doorstep. 

Digital marketers always advise their clients to have a refined SEO strategy because it underpins almost every digital marketing initiative. So, how does SEO actually work, and how do you make sure your SEO strategy is spot on?  

We asked our resident SEO expert Rod Wills the truth about SEO and why success takes time.

The two pillars of SEO

When digital marketers say ‘SEO they really mean Google. This one search engine accounts for up to 94 per cent of all online searches, so it’s important to play the SEO game Google’s way. And because around 75 per cent of people don’t go past the first page of Google results it is important to rank as highly as possible. 

SEO can be broken into two parts: 

  • Onsite SEO involves regularly working on elements of your website – such as content, site structure, site speed and internal linking – so Google can successfully crawl and rank your site. 
  • Offsite SEO involves building the credibility and authority of your website, for example, link building and social media.  

The bottom line: you need to ensure your strategy encompasses both onsite and offsite SEO best practices to improve your SEO ranking. 

Google's ranking factors are always evolving

SEO success is a marathon, not a sprint. Ranking well for competitive keywords takes significant time and effort, says Rod. 

Google’s core ranking algorithm considers over 200 factors when deciding search results. These include: 

  • High-quality content 
  • Mobile-friendliness 
  • Page speed 
  • An established website with a good backlink profile.  

However, Google makes thousands of updates every year to improve relevancy. In fact, according to Google itself, making 3,200 changes in one year is part of their process of keeping search results relevant. Some of these changes have a major impact while others are minor tweaks that go undetected by most users. With ranking factors in constant flux, achieving lasting SEO success requires ongoing optimisation. 

Authority building is a long game

Rod sums up the SEO process succinctly: “there are no shortcuts when it comes to SEO.” 

“Google is in the game of giving the best info possible to users,” he says. 

Google wants to deliver the most authoritative pages for each search query. A brand-new website has no track record or authority built up and it can take 6-12 months of consistent content publishing, link building, and optimisation to start gaining traction in Google’s rankings, especially for competitive keywords.  

“If you’re starting from scratch with a brand-new website the minimum amount of time it takes is four or five months,” he says. 

According to Ahrefs, only 22% of pages ranked in Google’s Top 10 results were a year old. Building up topical authority and an impressive backlink profile takes sustained effort over a long timeline. 

Users play an important role

Google pays very close attention to user signals like click-through rates, time on page, bounce rates and more. A page ranking #1 that gets very few clicks or has high bounce rates is likely to get demoted. It takes months or years of serving quality content that keeps users engaged to build up a positive bank of user signals. 

“Google has a set of guidelines – they don’t tell you how they rank, but they give guidelines on what you can or can’t do,” says Rod. 

“You shouldn’t try to game the system. They tweak the algorithms because someone is gaming the system and exploiting the loopholes.” 

Rod warns that brands should be wary of businesses that guarantee hitting page 1 of Google in an unrealistic timeframe. 

“Anyone promising that is probably gaming the system; you will be penalised and then you basically start again or you will have to try to get of out Google jail. 

“We don’t offer tricks – Google hires much more intelligent people than me. If Google says jump, we ask how high.”

Refine your keywords

The other important aspect to take into consideration are the keywords you’re using. For instance, take the example of water pump, a highly competitive keyword as it has multiple uses.  

“Is it for a fish tank or industrial water tank, or is it a commercial water pump? It’s not just someone buying a water pump, they could be researching what it is or how it works,” explains Rod. 

“The more exact the keyword, the lower the competition.” 

In this example, using the keyword ‘fish tank water pump’ will immediately differentiate your brand from myriad other ‘water pump’ searches on Google. That means you will finesse your audience into potential buyers who are specifically looking for products related to fish tank equipment. 

In short, the more precise your keywords, the better you can narrow in on the right customer base and convert those prospects into sales for your product or service offering. 

SEO success doesn’t happen overnight, but with patience and an ongoing commitment to optimise your onsite and offsite SEO strategy it remains one of the most cost-effective marketing channels available. Make sure to set realistic timelines and manage client expectations to ensure success! 

Don’t have time to work on your SEO strategy? That’s what we’re here for! Contact us to see how an optimised SEO strategy can elevate your brand up the Google ranks.

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